Tag Archives: Marcus Fenix

Gears of War 3 has bigger problems than just the Lambent


I beat Gears of War 3‘s campaign the other night, on the normal difficulty, and the hardest part was at the very beginning, when our gallant troop of four from the Delta Squad–Marcus Fenix, Dominic Santiago, Anya Stroud, and Jayson Stratton specifically–would run up to the deck of the Sovereign and stare in astonishment at a surprise attack from the Lambent. You can see this depicted in the picture above. Trust me when I say I’ve also stared at it a whole bunch because it is this point in time that the game decided to freeze for me on multiple occasions, hard-locking the entire Xbox One and forcing me to do a reboot. I’m not sure if this was a common happening in the original launch version or has something to do with it being backwards-compatible, but either way…yuck.

Because I’m slightly loopy and couldn’t help myself, I began tracking the number of Xbox One hard-freezes I hit in Gears of War 3:

  • Act 1 – FOUR
  • Act 2 – ONE
  • Act 3 – ONE
  • Act 4 – ZERO
  • Act 5 – ZERO

Now, six hard locks on the console might not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it is more than enough to be irksome. Especially for a game of this quality and number of people working on it. Thankfully, as you saw, it was more problematic at the start and steadied itself by the middle of the campaign, which meant I could focus more on shooting monsters in the face and less panicking every time a cutscene started.

Right. Gears of War 3 plot summary time. So, the Lambent launch a surprise attack. Before dying, Chairman Prescott gives Marcus an encryption to a disc, which reveals that his father, Adam Fenix, is still alive, but held as a prisoner on Azura, a secret COG base. Marcus and his pals then must fight their way to the Anvil Gate Fortress, where Hoffman possesses the necessary equipment to fully decrypt Prescott’s disc. Upon arriving at Anvil Gate, Marcus and his comrades assist soldiers in repelling a combined Lambent and Locust assault. There, they also learn that Azura is protected by man-made hurricane generators, making the island only accessible by submarine. The basic goal of the game is getting to Adam Fenix, with four and three-fourth acts or so of roadblocks that deter our protagonists into other areas first. Because videogames.

Gears of War 3 plays pretty similar to Gears of War 2 and Gears of War. I know, you’re shocked. Shook, even. You might also be surprised to learn that it does not exactly play like Gears of War 4 and that I had some trouble switching between the two. Like, I won’t even tell you the number of times I tried to run up to cover and mantle over it. I won’t. It also seems to move slower compared to the newest entry, and there’s no knife melee kill much to my chagrin. As previously mentioned, I played through on the normal difficulty and didn’t have any problems with the combat, occasionally dying to a well-placed Boomer shot or someone chainsawing me unexpectedly. There are a few vehicle sequences that are merely okay, though I felt like the submarine section towards Azura could have used more punch.

I don’t have any plans to play through the game again on a higher up difficulty, but I might check out the first few levels once more via the arcade mode, which basically scores every action you do. I’m currently going back to select chapters (on casual, you nerfherder!) to find all the collectibles and lost COG tags because I already stumbled upon a good chunk of them my first time through, so I might as well finish the job. A few of these shimmery items are hidden pretty well, so I’m referencing a guide here and there. No shame about it. It’s actually going faster than I initially expected, which makes me want to pop back into Gears of War 2 and Gears of War to grab their respective sets of collectibles. Once I start, I often can’t stop. I really do like how well Gears of War 3 monitors and tracks your progress, from collectibles to executions done to Achievement progress. It’s a small detail, but much appreciated.

After this, while I continue to chip away at Gears of War 4‘s multiplayer modes of Team Deathmatch and Dodgeball infrequently, I’ll eventually need to try out the black sheep of the series. Yup, the dreaded Gears of War: Judgment. I at least hope we get to learn more about where Damon Baird got his infamous goggles. At the very least.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #26 – Gears of War 3


Find Adam Fenix
Save what humanity left
Hard to play post-4

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #71 – Gears of War 4


Swarm creatures kidnap
Must fight back, bring back Daddy
Good fun, familiar

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Gears of War 2 continues its virile fight against the Locust horde

gd impressions on gow2 xbox 360

A part of me somehow knew that if I waited long enough I could get all of the Gears of War games for free thanks to Xbox’s Gaming with Gold program. Well, not exactly free, as I am paying money to be a Gold member, but free from the outside looking in. It started out with the first Gears of War, which I played through and found myself dumbfounded over how this became a popular, blockbuster series, even if I was having fun with the active reload mechanic. I find it perfunctory and fine, but nothing amazing, and you can feel free to call me names in the comments (if I approve your abhorrent name-calling comment for all to see, that is). Then Microsoft gave out Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment, but I was holding my breath for the second entry in the series so I could at least play them in some sort of sensible order. Lo and behold, it was a freebie for February 2016, completing the path forward.

Gears of War 2 takes place shortly after the end of the first game. The Coalition of Ordered Governments continues its fight against the Locust horde, who are attempting to sink all of the cities on the planet Sera. Sergeant Marcus Fenix leads Delta Squad down into the murky depths of the planet to try to stop the Locust from destroying Jacinto, one of the last remaining safe havens for humans. I feel like, other than the part about sinking planets, you could use this same description to summarize the first game, too. Either way, there are a couple of small side stories to explore, such as what happened to Dom’s wife Maria and a civil war brewing between the Locust and the Lambent.

Gameplay remains largely unchanged from the first Gears of War, though you can now pick up fallen enemies and use them as cover against incoming bullets. These are lovingly referred to as meatshields, which I approve of greatly. Regardless, you’ll push forward in linear levels, hiding behind cover and popping out of it to shoot the bad dudes. You’ll also have an AI-controlled partner with you for most of the missions, and I assume this character can also be controlled during the co-op campaign. I found Dom, at least on the “normal” difficulty, to be mostly a waste of space, especially during that boss fight against the Leviathan. Truth be told, and maybe this has to do with my recent practice with the Gears of War 4 Beta, I did pretty good in the campaign, only seeing red a handful of times, and those really only occurred during the two separate fights against Skorge, as I wasn’t sure exactly of what to do. Okay, okay…maybe an unseen Ticker got me now and then as well.

Alas, I’m still not enthralled with the running and gunning of the Gears of War series. I liked finding the collectibles in the levels, which should not surprise anyone following Grinding Down, as well as when you got to ride a Brumak near the end and just massacred everything in front of you. There’s also one level inside a giant monster where the focus is not on pelting Locust with bullets but rather surviving all the weird internal organs.  Those stand out as the highlights of the campaign for me.

Since beating Gears of War 2, I’ve been dabbling in its multiplayer modes. For various reasons. One is to clean up some Achievements I’m close to getting, like performing all the different execution methods or using proximity mines to kill ten enemies. Two…is that I fully expect to never return to Gears of War 2 once I start playing the third one, which I’m in no rush to load up, and so I want to make sure I get everything out of this game that I can. Or rather, that I want. I managed to get into one online multiplayer game with real-life people and had my butt handed to me swiftly, and so now I’m sticking to local matches against bots, as well as the Horde mode (solo and on “casual” difficulty). I also plan to pop back into the campaign and grab the remainder of the collectibles, considering I already got half of them my first time through this brown, brown world.

I’m definitely not immediately launching into Gears of War 3, even with the way this campaign ended on a cliffhanger. I’m okay waiting a bit. There’s plenty of other games currently in circulation too, such as Sunset Overdrive, I Am Alive, and Saints Row IV. In the meantime, if you are in the mood to play some Gears of War 2 and want to help me progress through Horde mode (I crashed into a wall around wave 6), hit me up on Xbox One.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #36 – Gears of War 2

2016 gd games completed gears of war 2

The Locust are back
With plans to sink Jacinto
Goodbye bland, brown world

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Most of us have Gears of War we never use

gears of war Xbox 360 final thoughts

Let me be blunt and say this: I can’t believe that Gears of War became a series, and a popular one at that. Well, according to Wikipedia, which probably needs some updating, the game has since sold over 5 million copies as of September 2008–meaning it’s probably much higher–and currently stands as the fifth best-selling Xbox 360 game. Yowza. Really? Really? Y’all on crazy pills.

Gears of War takes place on the planet Sera, but it might as well be Earth. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) is a minor political party there, and its soldiers are called gears, despite the obvious coggers sounds a whole lot cooler. The Locust, an alien race, suddenly attacks humanity, a day infamously known as E-Day, and the COG gears do what they can to ensure the survival of human civilization. Flash-forward fourteen years, and the COG is the only human government left on the planet. Former COG soldier Marcus Fenix is reinstated into the military after spending some years in prison for abandoning his military post for…personal reasons. His friend Dominic “Dom” Santiago successfully extracts Fenix from prison, reuniting him with the rest of the Delta Squad in hopes of finding a special device that will help eradicate the Locust’s underground caverns.

So…more or less, the film version of Starship Troopers. Which should not be a problem for me, as I actively enjoy both the film and Robert A. Heinlein’s futuristic military YA romp where soldiers with guns shoot opposing alien bugs. Yes, even the chapters devoted to simply describing powered armor. Alas, Gears of War, despite that grandiose plot summary, is devoid of life, character, characters, and details to make everything greatly interesting.

Right. Let’s do this. I played through Gears of War over the course of several sittings and on the lowest difficulty setting of Casual. It’s highly linear despite the occasional choice of going left or going right, and you, as Fenix, move forward, hide behind shattered walls and car husks, and peek out to shoot at alien monsters also doing the same thing. Once all the shooting is done, you’ll get some story beats, with either a cutscene or Fenix listening to someone tell him what to do via an earpiece. Basically, it’s all about moving forward, finding other members of the Delta Squad–who are constantly getting split up so that it can be just you and one other dude for co-op reasons–eventually leading to Fenix returning to his father’s house to find something a potent anti-Locust weapon. Somewhere in the middle of all that there’s a single vehicle mission, which has you driving and shooting light via a turret at Kryll, highly aggressive flying carnivores that thrive in the darkness. Throw in a couple of boss fights, a few of which don’t actually have you fighting something directly, and that’s the game in a nutshell, replete with a tease for more to come.

Ugh, I don’t know. I just found the entire campaign to be a hollow experience. Fenix and his fellow men are simply big shoulders and massive arm muscles that occasionally grunt and ask a question or make an action movie-like one-liner, but never strive to be real. Fenix, especially. I couldn’t care one bit about him because he just comes across as a brooding mass that refuses to say anything. This was especially apparent when we get to the part where he returns to his family’s home, which is being destroyed by the Locust, and there isn’t a single comment from him. Like, come on. Emote. Be a human being. But no, this is machoism all over again and shares the same problems I saw in Vanquish.

Here, have some positive talk. My favorite thing about Gears of War is the active reload. When you reload your weapon, you have a split-hair second chance to hit the button again and have your gun immediately back in action with a full clip. If you fail this, your gun jams and it takes longer to fix. Each weapon has a different active reload bar, and it made the firefights much more exciting than they actually were, even if it was just a little mini-game between Fenix and his weaponry. I found the sniper rifle to be the trickiest to reload speedily, and that was my key to victory at the end of Act 5.

Strangely, I’m curious about Gears of War‘s higher difficulty settings–Hardcore and Insanity–though I have to imagine it results in just Fenix taking more damage faster and enemies being bigger bullet sponges. I might at least try to play Act 1 again on a higher challenge, to see what that’s all about, as Casual was very much that–an easy walk with the occasional death, mostly because I lingered too long in the open or didn’t run through the Kryll-infested darkness fast enough. I don’t expect to do very well though, but I at least want to try because immediately after that I will be uninstalling the game from my Xbox 360’s hard-drive and moving on to greener pastures. Yes, there’s the multiplayer element to consider, but I was only able to get into one match after many, many attempts, and that’s because I don’t have certain DLC that others do and man, that’s stupid. Borderlands 2 really spoiled me with those compatibility patches.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #62 – Gears of War

2013 games completed gears of war

Big, burly bro-men
Out to stop the Locust Horde
Take cover, fire

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.